If I can use an example of a puzzle for a moment, I believe you’ll agree with me that it is a great depiction of life. Every piece, every border and shade, mirrors events and individuals that shape us. Some boxes even state the ages, as if 4-to-6 years were the amount of time it would take to complete. The difference here is that our life’s puzzle generally takes three score and ten years to assemble.
I choose not to recount those “pieces” of my life that were filled with heartache and disappointment; the final good byes to family and friends. Rather I choose to focus on the better “pieces.” My first kiss, my grandmother’s homemade Italian pizza that prompts me even now to drool on my computer keyboard. I can never forget looking into the eyes of each of my children on the day they were born and knowing instant love. And who could ever forget their wedding day?
Some of the “pieces” of my life that create some of my greatest laughter are still some of the moments I would never want to repeat. When our children were small, we lived in Florida. This particular weekend we were fortunate enough to have a babysitter. A romantic weekend, time alone on the beach, was just the thing we craved. The first night trying to unwind from a hectic week, we walked along the shoreline hand in hand at sunset. There was no other soul as far as the eye could see. As I lay in the sand with my head resting back in my wife’s lap, she stroked my hair as we talked. As she sat upon her blanket she was immune, I was not. Romance was to wait another weekend. As we made our way back to our lodging, an insane itching took over my body. I learned too late that I had rested on a carnivorous army of sand fleas.
What makes my life’s puzzle come to life is not the one piece that is bright and colorful or the piece that sits non-descript awaiting its place to fit in. It is the adventure of adding one piece at a time with the final piece bringing my whole life’s picture into focus.
This week a piece of my childhood, a puzzle piece was taken away. Russell Johnson the actor who played the professor on Gilligan’s Island passed away. As a child, that show was my favorite. In an interview he gave some years ago before his death, he was asked a very valid question. “Since you could do some pretty remarkable things like making a walky-talky out of a coconut and building some unbelievable huts, why could you never fix the hole in the boat.” His answer was priceless. “If you were stranded with Ginger and Marianne, would you want to fix the boat?”
I raise my glass in a toast to the New Year and to Mr. Russell. Here’s hoping that God gives me plenty more puzzle pieces, and if I am fortunate enough to be stranded in my own utopia, that I too won’t be foolish enough to fix my boat either.